Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary: Will my friend be offended if I buy her an XL dress?

Q. My son has moved his girlfriend into our fairly small house for the second lockdown. I am grateful for their company, but unfortunately his girlfriend has started addressing me in a baby voice. My son either hasn’t noticed or doesn’t seem to mind. Mary, as I suspect she is a little nervous of me, how can I tactfully let her know how annoying this is without ruffling feathers? She also ‘pony-trots’ between rooms, but I don’t mind that nearly as much as the baby voice.
— Name and address withheld

A. Collude with a good friend to call you on your mobile, timed for a moment when the three of you are assembled in the kitchen. Tell the friend that you can chat while you cook if she doesn’t mind being on loudspeaker so you have your hands free. Your friend should lapse into baby voice on and off during the conversation. After the call, speaking in deeply affectionate tones, you can explain: ‘She always does that voice when she’s attention-seeking.’ With luck this will put a stop to your guest’s irritating habit.

Q. I enjoyed last week’s advice to the reader whose goddaughter had failed to thank for a birthday present of cash. My godson has never thanked me for, or even acknowledged receipt of, the — I thought very generous — present of a cashmere blanket I gave from his wedding list last year. I am concerned that there may have been a failure to include my card or some other mix-up, yet I don’t want to ask whether he and his wife ever received the blanket as they will then presume I am chasing a thank-you letter and will be embarrassed into writing one at this late stage.

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